Don’t remember Jonathan Bender? At 7 feet, with a soaring wingspan and 39-inch vertical, he had no ceiling, we were told. Then he banged his head on it, quietly leaving the team in 2005 after a career 5.6 scoring average. (NBA scribe Peter Vecsey called him “the best practice player in history.”)
We’ve been skeptical of hyped “athletic” prospects ever since. But former first-rounder Paul George, the mild-mannered, 6-foot-8 wingman/grasshopper in his third season with the Pacers, makes us want to believe again: At 12 points per game last season, he eclipsed Bender’s highest single-season average (7.4) by more than half.
And now it’s official: As of yesterday’s announcement, George is an All-Star. He’s looked the part of Best Players on the Court for the Pacers throughout the season, and his do-it-all numbers bear out what we’ve seen: 17.3 points per game, 7.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.7 steals.
Thank goodness the coaches who voted him onto the Eastern Conference All-Stars have enjoyed the show as much as we have.
This article appeared in our “25 Reasons to Love the Pacers … Again!” feature in the November 2012 issue.
Updated Jan. 25, 2013.
Photo courtesy Indiana Pacers